AND Nothing But The Truth

“What??” you say, recoiling.  Yes, but I would be out there asking questions.  I’m not sure if most of the protestors wanted to be asked questions.  More importantly, I have my doubts that most of them have asked many questions themselves.  It’s much easier to just go out and yell; scream; wave signs; and, in some cases, burn cars and loot businesses.

Here is the first question I would ask:  Why are you here?  Now, the temptation for most of the protestors would be to start telling me how unarmed Michael Brown lost his life to a police officer’s bullet and about the Garner case, etc.  But, I think it behooves all of them — and us — to answer the “why” questions starting with the word, “because” — something along the lines of “Because I am angry about the grand jury’s decision on the Brown case.”  That’s a start, but then the follow-up question would be, “What do you think should be done about it?”  Is that correct?  No, that should be the #3 follow-up question (I’ll get to follow-up question #2 a little later).

Recently, I was listening to some educated people discussing the situations in Ferguson, Missouri; in New York City; and, now, all over the place.  On this television show, these knowledgeable individuals (two of whom had never worn a police uniform)  spoke very matter-of-factly that there needs to be sweeping “change” and “reform” in our nations police departments.  Now, I have some questions for them:  what specifically should be reformed?  Changes in what?  Take away our guns?  Take away people and put robo-cops out there?  Eliminate grand juries? what do you mean by change and reform, exactly? I listened to the show for a half hour and never heard any specifics whatsoever.

Here in Miami, hundreds of protesters recently blocked a portion of I-95 and caused a massive traffic jam during rush hour (we already have massive traffic jams during this time, so this one was “ultramassive”).   You’ll notice that, in a previous column, I spoke about my experiences in the 1980 riots in Miami and how Ferguson wouldn’t be the last of them.  It won’t unless we do implement some sort of change, so I have some changes to propose.

We need to change what we are teaching our children in the classrooms and households of America, starting when they are old enough to read and write.  I don’t know about you, but I’m 56 and, when I went to elementary school, there was a huge emphasis on being good citizens (citizenship was also emphasized in the Boy Scouts back in the day).  What did that mean?  Well, it meant appreciating our country and helping to take card of it, starting with stuff which third graders can understand, like “Don’t litter!” But, to appreciate something, you have to understand it, don’t you?  So, my change and reform is focused on teaching children that they are citizens and like any give-and-take relationship, their obligation is  to give to the community by understanding it laws and respecting them.  When they get to be middle-schoolers, let’s start talking about the legal process.  Let’s explain to them that we have this wondrous document called the Constitution and that, when people say, “I know my rights,”  it is their duty as citizens to understand those rights.  Let’s teach them–starting in the sixth grade and not stopping until they graduate high school–that everyone in our country has equal protection under the law and that everyone gets this very cool thing called due process.  let’s make them understand and appreciate the 14th Amendment because that part of the Constitution is the most compassionate elements any government has ever created for its citizens.  We’ll teach them that part of this due process thing is states have grand juries.

STOP!

We take you now to our roving reporter, Nancy Newscaster, , who is on-scene at I-95 in Miami where hundreds of protesters have gathered right in the middle of the expressway to protest the Brown and Garner decisions.  Nancy, can you hear us?

Nancy (with finger in one ear, looks around during that annoying five second delay, then smiles):  Yes, Ramesh, I can hear you! It’s quite a scene over here.  I’m going to talk to some of these protestors and see what’s going on! (She moves closer to a scowling woman carrying a sign which says, “Police=Legalized Murder”)

Nancy: Ma’am, can I ask you something, please? Why are you here?

Protestor:  Cuz, I’m angry! The Police are getting away with killing our young people! We’re tired of it!  We need change and uh…reeee….

Nancy: Um, you mean REFORM?

Protestor: Yeah.  And, we’re angry about them damned grand juries.  They don’t think a young man’s life is worth anything.  We need to get of these damned grand juries!

Nancy: Can you tell us exactly what a grand jury is and what they do?

(Congrats, Nancy, you nailed it! That’s follow-up question # 2!)

Protestor:  Umm…yeah.  They’re a bunch of racists who make sure minorities don’t get any justice!

 Nancy: Well, actually, I can tell you exactly what a grand jury is.  Can you get everyone to move to the side of the road a moment and I’ll explain?

(Here’s the fairyland part of this where the protestors actually move to the side and take a seat, intently listening to Nancy.)

Nancy:  You see, class (a projector screen appears out of nowhere, with a PowerPoint presentation which says, “Grand Juries for Protestors”), a grand jury is actually a layer of protection for the citizens. It’s a safeguard against corrupt or overzealous government, providing a step in due process which give the citizens themselves a chance to test the case for validity.  Grand juries make sure that cases are viable enough to go to trial, so that no one gets prosecuted maliciously for something substantial and lose their freedom or their life because of a prosecutor who wants to imprison them without having a solid case.  If we do away with grand juries for police officers, the 14th Amendment says we would have to do away with them for everyone-including you and your families.

Random protestors: Oh, wow, we didn’t really see it that way.  Gee, thanks, Nancy.  We’ll go home now.  (Protestors pick up their signs and place them in a nearby recycling bin and head off, apologizing to the motorists who are not able to head home.)

And, then,  I woke up!

2015 is shaping up to be full of surprises-I wish you much joy in the New Year.

 

Commentary: Black Officer’s Perspective on Ferguson

I just left a general session of the IACP Conference in Orlando. I was surprised to see several demonstrators had gotten into the Convention Center and were shouting, “Hands up, don’t shoot.” As an African American delegate, they took notice of me. As I walked past them, they changed their chants to, “Shame-shame-shame, whose side are you on?” I remembered hearing a similar chant as I watched protestors on television yelling at black police officers.

This made me think about the often-missing element in the national discourse in the aftermath of an incident with racial overtones. It is typically the questioning of the validity of community based policing in a particular locality. In reality, the missing element is the perspective of the black police officer. An experienced police officer understands 1) the application of force; 2) the training that officer receive; and 3) the fact that injustices can happen in society.

The story will usually begin with a video clip showing a police action. Often times the clip is of the police reaction. The clip of the events leading to that reaction is withheld. The public is asked to weigh in on whether the officer’s actions were proper or some violation of civil rights.

I sometimes think of it like me watching a video of a French Chef preparing a special dish and having to comment on whether he/she used the right spice to create the right effect. I certainly might hazard an opinion, but since French culinary cooking is not my profession, I would not be expected to provide expert testimony.

Yet, when the average citizen sees a portion of a tape or even an action in person, he/she may miss some important facts such as the presence of resistive tension or the dropping back of the strong side foot into a fighting stance. Many videos do not have audio so the public does not know what commands were given by law enforcement and if they were ignored. The use of force observed many look improper or even racist to an untrained civilian.

The other side of the coin is that a black police officer is also a citizen. When he/she if off duty and driving around in his/her personal car, the officer knows which communities have a lower tolerance for traffic violations and whether a particular action may have racial overtones. His/her unique perspective of being a trained law enforcement officer and a member of the black community gives him/her insight as to the effectiveness of the black community based policing in a particular locality.

It is interesting that as we rightly challenge agencies to increase their level of diversity within their ranks, certain protest groups will publicly yell at and harass black police officers. Is this a good recruitment tool to add additional minority police officers? Who would want to take a job on the local police force and then be asked, “Whose side are you on?”

There are times when an officer gets it wrong and breaks his/her department’s policies or even the law itself. These cases must be fairly investigated and the corrective action taken. When this is done in an appropriate fashion, employee morale will remain high and community support should remain.

It is clear that our nation is much divided. Some of our communities are really suffering. Maybe it is time to try something a little different.

How about bringing-willed clergy and law enforcement together to pray for each other, that our communities might be healed? Organizations such as the Fellowship of Christian Peace Officers-USA are encouraging police officers to meet in communities around the country to begin praying for our police departments and the community. This is probably the best next step to such a difficult social issue.

Randy Brashears is retired from the Baltimore County, Md. Police and a National Board Member of the Fellowship of Christian Peace Officers.

You’re Not a Cop Until You Taste Them

The department was all astir; there was a lot of laughing and joking due to all the new officers, myself included, filling the streets today for the first time.  After months of seemingly endless amounts of classes, paperwork and lectures, we were finally done with the Police Academy and ready to join the ranks of our department.  All you could see were rows of cadets with huge smiles and polished badges.  As we sat in the briefing room, we could barely sit still anxiously awaiting our turn to be introduced and given our beat assignment, our own portion of the city to “serve and protect.”

It was then that he walked in. A statue of a man–6 foot 3 and 230 pounds of solid muscle; he had black hair with highlights of gray and steely eyes that made you feel nervous even when he wasn’t looking at you. He had a reputation for being the biggest and the smartest officer to ever work our fair city. He had been on the department for longer than anyone could remember and those years of service had made him into somewhat of a legend.

The new guys, or “rookies” as he called us, both respected and feared him. When he spoke, even the most seasoned officers paid attention. It was almost a privilege when the rookies got to be around when he would tell one of his police stories about the old days. But we knew our place and never interrupted for fear of being shooed away. He was respected and revered by all who knew him.

After my first year on the department I still had never heard or seen him speak to any of the rookies for any length of time. When he did speak to them all he would say was, “So you want to be a policeman, do you, hero? I’ll tell you what, when you can tell me what they taste like, then you can call yourself a real policeman.”

This particular phrase I had heard dozens of times. My buddies and I all had bets about “what they taste like” actually referred to. Some believed it referred to the taste of your own blood after a hard fight. Others thought it referred to the taste of sweat after a long day’s work. Being on the department for a year, I thought I knew just about everyone and everything.

So one afternoon, I mustered up the courage and walked up to him. when he looked down at me, I said, “You know, I think I’ve paid my dues. I’ve been in plenty of fights, made dozens of arrests, and sweated my butt off just like everyone else. So what does that little saying of yours mean anyway?” With that, he merely stated, “Well, seeing as how you’ve said and done it all, you tell me what it means, hero.” When I had no answer, he shook his head and snickered, “Rookies,” and walked away.

The next evening was to be the worst one to date. The night started out slow, but as the evening wore on, the calls became more frequent and dangerous. I made several small arrests ad then had a real knock down, drag out fight. However, I was able to make the arrest without hurting the suspect or myself. After that, I was looking forward to letting the shift wind down and getting home to my wife and daughter.

I glanced at my watch and it was 11:55, five more minutes and I would be on my way home. I don’t know if it was fatigue or just my imagination, but as I drove down one of the streets on my beat, I thought I saw my daughter standing on someone else’s porch. I looked again but it was not my daughter as I had first thought but merely a child about her age. She was probably only six or seven years old and dressed in an oversized shirt that hung to her feet. She was clutching a rag doll in her arms that looked older than me.

I immediately stopped my squad car to see what she was doing outside her house at such an hour by herself. When I approached, there seemed to be a sigh of relief on her face. I had to laugh at myself, thinking she sees the hero policeman coming to save the day I knelt at her side and asked what she was doing outside. She said, “My mommy and daddy just had a really big fight and now mommy won’t wake up.” My mind was reeling. Now what do I do? I instantly called for backup and ran to the nearest window. As I looked inside, I saw a man standing over a lady with his hands covered in blood, her blood. I kicked open the door, pushed the man aside and checked for a pulse, but was unable to find one. I immediately cuffed the man and began doing CPR on the lady.

It was then I heard a small voice from behind me, “Mr. Policeman, please make my mommy wake up.” I continued to perform CPR until my backup and medics arrived but they said it was to late. She was dead.

I then looked at the man. He said, “I don’t know what happened. She was yelling at me to stop drinking and go get a job and I had just had enough. I just shoved her so she would leave me alone and she fell and hit her head.” As I walked the man out to the car in handcuffs, I again saw that little girl. In the five minutes that has passed, I went from hero to monster. Not only was I unable to wake up her mommy, but now I was taking daddy away too. Before I left the scene, I thought I would talk to the little girl. To say that, I don’t know. Maybe just to tell her I was sorry about her mommy and daddy. But as I approached, she turned away and I knew it was useless and I would probably make it worse.

As I sat in the locker room at the station, I kept replaying the whole thing in my mind. Maybe if I would have been faster or done something different, just maybe that little girl would still have her mother. And even though it may sound selfish, I would still be the hero.

It was then that I felt a large hand on my shoulder. I heard that all to familiar question again, “Well, hero, what do they taste like?” But before I could get mad or shout some sarcastic remark, I realized that all the pentup emotions had flooded the surface and there was a steady stream of tears cascading down my face. It was at that moment that I realized what the answer to his question was. Tears.

With that, he began to walk away, but he stopped. “You know, there was nothing you could have done differently,” he said. “Sometimes you can do everything right and still the outcome is the same.”

“We work for God.”–(A highly respected veteran LAW and ORDER author)

All actions have consequences

I was in the process of typing up an upbeat end-of-year synopsis of 2014 for this week’s column when I learned of the murders of two NYPD officers in Brooklyn.

Officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu were shot execution style by a coward named Ismaaiyl Brinsley.  A coward that snuck up to their patrol vehicle and executed them before they had a chance to react.  A coward who did this an act of revenge for the killings of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and Eric Garner in Staten Island.  A coward who was inspired by the racial rhetoric coming from President Obama, Eric Holder, NYC Mayor Bill DeBlasio, their advisor Al Sharpton and the rest of the America-Haters looking to fundamentally change our nation.

This was racial rhetoric being fed to the public by an irresponsible left wing media; racial rhetoric that led to the murders of two law enforcement officers who had absolutely nothing to do with the original incidents.

Actions do have consequences.  In this new, bizarre world of the Alinskyites, a police officer doing his job and protecting his own life becomes the criminal and an out-of-control individual trying to kill that cop becomes the victim.

Police addressing community complaints from local merchants whose businesses were being undercut by an individual selling untaxed merchandise become murderers because they enforced the law, and , as sometimes happens, things fell apart.

This new age, left-wing process of reversing reality by condoning criminality and condemning rule of law will have serious consequences down the road.

When we turn the good guys into the bad guys and the bad guys into victims, when crowds chant about killing cops, we invite this sort of behavior.

The crazies crawl out of the woodwork to heed the tongue-to-cheek call to arms by leftist elected officials who, for political gain and with total disregard to the facts, condemn the actions of good men and women trying to wrest order out of an out-of-control society.

Meanwhile, they pretend that society’s miscreants are the victims of an overbearing police state.

At some point, society’s protectors will, out of self-preservation, give up, sit back and allow the alinskyites to call the shots.  When proactive policing becomes reactive policing, when cops are reduced to cleaning up the aftermath of crime instead of preventing it, we’re going to need those firearms that the leftists are trying to take away from us.

Our police won’t be able to help us; they’ll be too busy defending themselves from the America-haters.

The White House press pool reported that our president was told about this shooting while golfing on his Hawaiian vacation.  True to form, he continued his game while one of his lackeys issued a statement saying that there was “no justification” for the killings.

Really? I wonder if he’ll wax poetic about how these two officers could have been his imaginary sons.  I wonder if his attorney general will send 50 FBI agents to New York to investigate this heinous crime.  Will White House staffers attend their funerals?

While I’m sure there will be cover statements from the America-haters condemning this despicable act, there will always be a “but” attached.

That “but” will attach some responsibility to law enforcement and call for “both sides” or “all parties” to show restraint.

I’m also sure there will be a sudden media wave of support for law enforcement in the wake of this horrific attack; support that will be too little, to late for officers Liu and Ramos.

Rules for Radicals

Not familiar with Saul Alinsky and his Alinskyites? We’ve spoken of his before.  Pick up his book, “Rules for Radicals,” and find out how a community organizer destroys a nation by fundamentally changing it.

Written By:  Mike Holz

 

Good Men, Women in Blue

Trying to make sense of the assassination of two police officers on the Saturday before Christmas, my mind keeps drifting back to the morning of March 13, 2010.  That’s the day a police officer saved the lives of my family.

Shortly after 5 in the morning, my wife and I heard noise outside.  I thought it was some drunks and, when we saw police lights flashing, expected it would soon be over.  Instead, at 5:15, a police officer knocked on our door and told my wife that the hotel next door was engulfed in flames.  As the shock set in, the officer calmly but firmly told her that we needed to get dressed and get ready to evacuate.  He then went on to the next home.

Just 45 minutes later, despite the amazing efforts of volunteer firefighters, our house was gone.  And when I say gone, I mean completely.  Watching it burn seemed like the cartoon image of termites devouring a house from back to front.  The appliances melted.  There was nothing left.  Everything physical that we had accumulated through more than 20 years of marriage was reduced to ashes.

The blaze took out a bed-and-breakfast, a hotel and six houses.  More than 200 firefighters worked tirelessly in a chilly nor’easter to contain the damage.

A local Christian organization opened its doors; the Red Cross set up shop; and our community grieved.  The outpouring of support was unbelievable.  I can’t tell you how many people offered us clothes or food or a place to stay.  Some belonged to our church.  Other’s did not.  Some I had never before met.  It got to be so much that we had to remind everybody we were OK; people in Haiti, who had just suffered a terrible earthquake, needed help more than we did.

The whole community came together to help us get through something  I hope you never have to experience.  But none of it would have been possible without the quick and effective response of our local police officers.

They didn’t leap through flames or dodge bullets like the TV cops, but because of their effort on that March morning, not a single person was killed or injured by the fire.

A few weeks later, our town held a community service of thanksgiving.  My wife and I thanked the police officer who had saved our lives, and had our picture taken with him.  Pictures of the fire taken 20 minutes after he arrived showed our bed in flames.  it is horrifying to contemplate.

But our hero was embarrassed by the attention.  He said he was just doing his job.

It didn’t matter to him or us at the time, but in today’s racially charged police debate, it seems worth noting that the officer is black and we are white.

Than man is my image of the 780,0000 men and women in blue who make our lives better every day by “just doing their job.”  They aren’t saints, and they do make mistakes.  We all do.

But day in and day out, America’s police officers prove again and again that they are good people putting themselves at risk in a very difficult job.

Written By: Scott Rasmussen

 

 

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